02 November 2008

Even Racists Voting for Obama

James Hannaham of salon.com writes how racism not only continues in America, but is revealed to be complex and flexible, when people are faced with the prospect of voting for or against Obama with a multitude of interests in mind.

I find the article interesting, enlightening, and fairly agreeable to my views of how racism seems to operate in America.

One bit of semantics which could help with understanding all this is a definition which I learned while attending a special multiculturalism workshop as an undergrad at UC Berkeley.  An African American friend of mine at the time, also of mixed heritage, succinctly pointed out, "Racism is prejudice plus power."  

Perhaps the two most important inferences from that definition is that prejudice and racism are not exactly the same, and that racism is far more than thoughts and biases, but when actions are taken based on those thoughts and biases which negatively impact another. This could happen consciously or subconsciously, intentionally or inadvertently.

And, perhaps further, it is then easy enough to say that even highly prejudiced people can and do still choose to vote for Obama by applying the power of their vote based on far more than a singular bias.  Racists in other areas of their lives, but for a brief moment in the polling booth.